Browse Social Movements

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Name Description Founding year Related works
Age of Consent Movement As part of a larger social purity campaign in the late nineteenth-century, women and men reformers initiated a movement in 1885 to petition legislators to raise the legal age at which girls could consent to sexual i... As part of a larger social purity campaign in the late nineteenth-century, women and men reformers initiated a movement in 1885 to petition legislators to raise the legal age at which girls could consent to sexual intercourse. Their goal was to prevent the sexual exploitation of young women by criminalizing sexual intercourse with them. By 1920 most states had raised the legal age of consent to either sixteen or eighteen. Reformers were mostly white middle-class women and the campaign drew support from the suffrage movement and women's groups including the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Show more Show less 1885 2
Anti-Feminist Movement After Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, which gave women the right to vote, female anti-suffragists did not fade into political obscurity. Instead, a coalition of anti-suffragists organized a broad p... After Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, which gave women the right to vote, female anti-suffragists did not fade into political obscurity. Instead, a coalition of anti-suffragists organized a broad political movement to oppose expansion of social welfare programs and women's peace efforts, and to foster a political culture hostile to progressive female activists. Antifeminists sought to limit the social reform movements energized by progressive and feminist women in the 1920s. Show more Show less 1920 2
Anti-Sweatshop Movement From 1890 to 1915 reformers in every American city sought to eliminate the low wages, long hours and unsanitary working conditions of home-based tenement industries and crowded workshops called “sweatshops.” Pro... From 1890 to 1915 reformers in every American city sought to eliminate the low wages, long hours and unsanitary working conditions of home-based tenement industries and crowded workshops called “sweatshops.” Prominent in this movement were trade unionists and middle-class women’s organizations including the National Consumers’ Leagues founded in the 1890s, and women reformers like Florence Kelley who sought to encourage consumers, through their purchasing power, employers, through their work practices, and the government, through protective labor legislation, to eliminate sweating. Government responses to the anti-sweatshop campaign included the U.S. House of Representatives’ decision in 1893 to authorize the Committee on Manufactures to investigate “the effect of the so-called ‘sweating system’ of tenement-house labor.” Show more Show less 1890 2
Birth Control Movement The Comstock Law, which made distribution of information about contraception illegal from 1873 to 1936, met with relatively little opposition until the second decade of the twentieth century, when reformers Mary War... The Comstock Law, which made distribution of information about contraception illegal from 1873 to 1936, met with relatively little opposition until the second decade of the twentieth century, when reformers Mary Ware Dennett (1872-1947) and Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) took up the "birth control" cause. From 1916 onwards, Sanger and Dennett competed for leadership, each forming different organizations and promoting different solutions to the issue of making birth control accessible and legal. Dennett founded the National Birth Control League in 1915 and the Voluntary Parenthood League in 1919. Sanger founded the short-lived Birth Control League in 1914, the American Birth Control League in 1921, and helped form the Birth Control Federation of America (1939), renamed the Planned Parenthood Federation in 1942. The Birth Control Movement moved out beyond the borders of the United States with the founding of the International Planned Parenthood Federation in Bombay in 1952. Show more Show less 1915 4
Equal Rights Amendment Movement After the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party conceived of a plan for a new amendment to promote equal rights for women more generally. Written in 1921, and first... After the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party conceived of a plan for a new amendment to promote equal rights for women more generally. Written in 1921, and first introduced into Congress in 1923, it finally passed the House and Senate in 1972. Professional women’s organizations predominated in the early movement as women’s labor interests opposed the ERA until the 1960s, viewing it as a threat to protective legislation for women. By the 1970s a broader coalition of women’s groups came to support the ERA in the changed economic and social climate. Show more Show less 1920 2
General Federation of Women's Clubs Founded in 1890 by Jane Cunningham Croly, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs became one of the largest women’s organizations in the country. As President in the 1890s, Ellen Herotin developed the Federation... Founded in 1890 by Jane Cunningham Croly, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs became one of the largest women’s organizations in the country. As President in the 1890s, Ellen Herotin developed the Federation’s political and social interests. Members worked for a variety of social reforms that would benefit women and children. In 1955 membership peaked at 830,000. The Federation continues to be a significant voluntary organization today. Show more Show less 1890 2
International Women's Peace Movement From 1915 onwards women reformers, led by Jane Addams and Emily Greene Balch, promoted disarmament and world peace through organizations like the United States Women’s Peace Party (1915-1919), and the Women’s In... From 1915 onwards women reformers, led by Jane Addams and Emily Greene Balch, promoted disarmament and world peace through organizations like the United States Women’s Peace Party (1915-1919), and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (1919-). Show more Show less 1915 3
Juvenile Court Movement From 1890 to 1915 a wave of juvenile reform (in which women played a prominent role) swept the nation and, within a few years, most states passed juvenile court legislation. Children were increasingly seen to have d... From 1890 to 1915 a wave of juvenile reform (in which women played a prominent role) swept the nation and, within a few years, most states passed juvenile court legislation. Children were increasingly seen to have different needs from adults in the justice system and were provided for accordingly. Show more Show less 1890 2
Movement to End Violence Against Women From the 1960s onward, women’s groups protested violence women suffered at the hands of men and the lack of protection offered to women victims by police and the legal system. Alongside providing shelters for batt... From the 1960s onward, women’s groups protested violence women suffered at the hands of men and the lack of protection offered to women victims by police and the legal system. Alongside providing shelters for battered women, women publicized the issue of violence, holding national conferences, and demanding legislative protections and reforms. As a result of this movement, in 1994 Congress enacted the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which responded to the inadequacies of state justice systems in dealing with violent crimes against women. Show more Show less 1960 1
National American Woman Suffrage Association In 1890 the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, joined Lucy Stone’s American Woman’s Suffrage Association (AWSA) to form the National American Woman Su... In 1890 the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, joined Lucy Stone’s American Woman’s Suffrage Association (AWSA) to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). The suffrage movement had split in 1869 over the issue of black male suffrage in the Fifteenth Amendment. From 1890 to 1920 when woman suffrage was finally added to the U.S. Constitution, NAWSA was the dominant national suffrage organization. Show more Show less 1890 2
National League of Women Voters The League of Women Voters (LWV) is a United States nonpartisan organization that formed out of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in 1920. In addition to a domestic focus on voter education, t... The League of Women Voters (LWV) is a United States nonpartisan organization that formed out of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in 1920. In addition to a domestic focus on voter education, the LWV developed international committees to address foreign affairs. In its early years, the LWV established the Department of International Cooperation to Prevent War, which focused on peace work. In 1947 it set up the Carrie Chapman Catt Memorial Fund to provide civic education to women whose countries were transitioning to democratic governments. The name of the Memorial Fund changed to the Overseas Education Fund (OEF) in 1961 and OEF International in 1986. This digital archive includes selected international material from the Department of International Cooperation in the 1920s and 1930s and OEF International material from the 1940s to the 1990s. Show more Show less 1919 3
National Woman's Party, US In 1916 Alice Paul, founder of the militant suffragist organization, the Congressional Union of Woman Suffrage (CUWS), mobilized her supporters to launch the National Woman's Party (NWP). The NWP used civil disobedi... In 1916 Alice Paul, founder of the militant suffragist organization, the Congressional Union of Woman Suffrage (CUWS), mobilized her supporters to launch the National Woman's Party (NWP). The NWP used civil disobedience tactics to promote the passage of the woman suffrage amendment. Paul’s strategies contributed to the passage of the federal Suffrage Amendment in 1919 and its ratification in 1920. After 1920 the NWP turned its attention to the passage of an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Show more Show less 1916 1
Temperance Movement The movement to limit the consumption of alcohol began around 1800, when alcohol consumption was at an all-time high in the United States. Sobriety became a value associated with modernizing trends that included sel... The movement to limit the consumption of alcohol began around 1800, when alcohol consumption was at an all-time high in the United States. Sobriety became a value associated with modernizing trends that included self control and individualism, and was supported by working-class as well as middle-class Protestants. Dominated by men before 1860, the temperance movement nevertheless offered women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton a forum where they developed public speaking skills. In the depression winter of 1873-74, the women’s temperance movement exploded in Ohio with public demonstrations in which women protested the effects of men’s alchohol consumption on women and families. Organized by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), the women’s temperance movement worked closely with the woman suffrage movement and became the most important vehicle for the participation of both black and white women in public life between 1873 and 1900. Although WCTU membership remained high and their international efforts were notable after 1900, other women’s organizations emerged to shape women’s activism in the decades before 1920. The passage of the prohibition amendment to the U.S. constitution in 1919 was largely due to the efforts of men in the anti-saloon league, a much more conservative organization than the WCTU. Show more Show less 1800 2
United States. Children's Bureau The United States Children’s Bureau of the Department of Labor, a federal agency dedicated to monitoring and improving the lives of the nation’s children, was created in response to the urging of women reformers... The United States Children’s Bureau of the Department of Labor, a federal agency dedicated to monitoring and improving the lives of the nation’s children, was created in response to the urging of women reformers in 1912. Julia Lathrop, the first director, was followed by Grace Abbott in 1920. Bypassing male-dominated organizations such as the U.S. Public Health Service, the U.S. Children’s Bureau was the first governmental agency in the western world that was headed by women for women. Show more Show less 1912 17
United States. Women's Bureau The United States government created the Women's Bureau within the Department of Labor in 1920. While the Women's Bureau is concerned mostly with domestic issues, Women and Social Movements International includes do... The United States government created the Women's Bureau within the Department of Labor in 1920. While the Women's Bureau is concerned mostly with domestic issues, Women and Social Movements International includes documents published by the Women's Bureau regarding transnational and international aspects of women and policy, particularly material that engages discussions of the Western Hemisphere. Show more Show less 1920 10
Voluntary Parenthood League In 1918 Mary Ware Dennett and others formed the Voluntary Parenthood League (VPL) out of the National Birth Control League, formerly headed by Margaret Sanger. The main goal of the new group was the abolition of law... In 1918 Mary Ware Dennett and others formed the Voluntary Parenthood League (VPL) out of the National Birth Control League, formerly headed by Margaret Sanger. The main goal of the new group was the abolition of laws restricting access to birth control. Dennett left the League in 1925 when members voted to support Sanger’s effort to legalize birth control by giving doctors control of the distribution of contraception. Show more Show less 1918 1
Woman Suffrage Movement Between 1848, when the woman suffrage movement was launched, and 1920, when the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote, the movement mobilized 480 campaigns in state legislatures, 277 campaigns in state c... Between 1848, when the woman suffrage movement was launched, and 1920, when the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote, the movement mobilized 480 campaigns in state legislatures, 277 campaigns in state conventions, and 19 campaigns in 19 successive congresses in addition to the ratification campaign of 1919-1920. Suffrage became the major vehicle for the advancement of women in American society more generally in this period. Show more Show less 1848 6
Women's City Club of New York Building on innovations of women like Lillian Wald in the field of women’s and infants’ public health, the Women’s City Club of New York (WCCNY) was founded in 1915. Since its founding the WCCNY has monitored... Building on innovations of women like Lillian Wald in the field of women’s and infants’ public health, the Women’s City Club of New York (WCCNY) was founded in 1915. Since its founding the WCCNY has monitored public policy and undertaken campaigns related to child health and sweatshops. Show more Show less 1915 1
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) grew out of the International Congress of Women at The Hague, which brought together over 1,000 women in 1915 to work for a peaceful end to the war in... The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) grew out of the International Congress of Women at The Hague, which brought together over 1,000 women in 1915 to work for a peaceful end to the war in Europe. Women who attended this first conference and whose writings are included in this digital archive include Jane Addams, Emily Greene Balch, Aletta Jacobs, and Chrystal Macmillan. Over the years, WILPF protested chemical and biological warfare, worked towards World Disarmament, and worked with both the League of Nations and the United Nations. Today, WILPF continues to work with the UN as an NGO as well as with national and local governments and promotes peace through non-violent means. WILPF-related materials in this digital archive include congress proceedings, correspondence between WILPF leaders, and reports about national peace and women’s movements. Show more Show less 1915 1
Women's Labor Movement, 19th and 20th Centuries Working women first organized to strike and defend their interests in the cotton textile mills of New England in the 1830s and 40s. Women shoeworkers were prominent in the 1860 New England shoe strike as well. Women... Working women first organized to strike and defend their interests in the cotton textile mills of New England in the 1830s and 40s. Women shoeworkers were prominent in the 1860 New England shoe strike as well. Women’s factory employment expanded in the twentieth century and women participated in the 1909 New York City shirtwaist strike and the 1912 strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Women’s labor force participation expanded dramatically after World War II and women became increasingly active in labor unions, as exemplified by the creation of the Coalition of Labor Union Women in 1974. Show more Show less 1830 3
Women's Trade Union League, United Kingdom Established by social settlement reformers and working women in 1903, and active until 1955, with branches in New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia, the WTUL promoted unions of women workers in the garmen... Established by social settlement reformers and working women in 1903, and active until 1955, with branches in New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia, the WTUL promoted unions of women workers in the garment and other semi-skilled industries. WTUL prospered during and after the 1909-10 strike of more than 20,000 shirtwaist workers in New York City. The League's presence during the strike attracted many working women to the organization and by 1910 working women had taken over leadership of the League’s trade committees. Show more Show less 1903 3
Young Women's Christian Association of the United States of America During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), named after a similar men’s organization, was organized largely by middle-class white women in cities around the nati... During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), named after a similar men’s organization, was organized largely by middle-class white women in cities around the nation who built Association boarding houses, training schools, and day nurseries to protect and provide services for single women in cities. In more recent decades the YWCA has continued a wide range of activities including shelter for women and children and support for women’s reproductive rights. Show more Show less 1858 1